Our home on the river doesn’t have the usual front or back yard.

It’s been 16 years since we, quite by chance, came across a “House for sale” right on the St Johns River. Just for fun, because we continually fantasized about living on the river, we pulled up on the vacant driveway. It was flanked by well-manicured lawns and a few gracefully waving palms, and the house was architecturally unusual enough to pique our interest. I waited in the car while Pete went snooping around the corner, because, although it was unoccupied, we weren’t sure of the etiquette of looking around on our own. A moment later he came running back: “You have to come see the tree!” Laughing nervously, like two naughty children we almost tiptoed round the house and then, for the first time, ‘our’ 300 or 400-year-old oak surprised me with strange joy. It leaned out over the river, green and lush, heavily festooned with silvery Spanish moss. We looked at each other in wonder and then at the tree again – unmistakably, we had fallen in love. There and then, we decided to buy, and 45 minutes later signed an offer to purchase! In the years since then this tree has become a potent metaphor in my life and the focal point of many a meditation on Psalm 1.

When I first read those words by C.S.Lewis, “Surprised by Joy”, their truth fell into my soul like a pebble into a lake. The ripples may take time to appear, but they keep coming. I treasure the soul-renewal of finding joy when least expected, often in unlikely places, right in the ‘now’ of life. And it is a tantalizing glimpse into the even greater awareness possible when we are quickened by the Holy Spirit. When Best Beloved and I share the small things that have beautified our day, from poems to people, from music to machines, I experience another ripple on the surface of my soul.

Old age is proverbially a place of memories, but there is little to no growth in reliving the past, however precious, and even the best of stories can be told too many times 😊. Excessive time spent looking in the rear-view mirror will inevitably cause a crash!

I have found that as I submit daily to the energizing of the Holy Spirit in me, I am graced with unexpected joys and life-enriching truths have only to be gathered like so much manna for the day. The hummingbird outside my kitchen window, the extravagance of the loved (though untended) orchids hanging in the tree next to my chair, the tentative hug of a shy young friend – so many little things adding up to so much that I am overwhelmed by gratitude.

Aging is a relentless process, but I pray to keep seeing each given moment with the lively eyes of discovery – until my Lord Jesus takes me home. Even then I expect to be surprised by ULTIMATE JOY! After all: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Cor. 2:9)